By Mike Indri, Retired Boxers Foundation - June 7, 2007 -- When world champion Miguel Cotto steps into the Madison Square Garden ring this Saturday night to defend his World Boxing Association welterweight title against former undisputed champion Zab Judah, there will be 20,000, filled to the rafters, fans packed into boxing's Mecca.
Article posted on 08.06.2007
Legendary promoter Bob Arum proudly announced at yesterday's MSG press conference that this would be the first wall-to-wall sellout at "the world's most famous arena" since 1983, when the great Roberto Duran knocked out undefeated Davey Moore (TKO 8: 06/16/83), taking the Bronx native's WBA light middleweight crown with his magical performance..
Arum feels the June 9th battle of champions, whose promotion was aptly dubbed "X-Plosive", will also be magical. Citing the only difference being that Cotto, the Top Rank promoted fighter, will not be losing his share of the 147-pound crown.
Zab disagrees, as does his cantankerous manager/trainer/father, Yoel Judah.
"I don't need no microphone to say what I have to say," shouted the elder Judah as he approached the podium, "Don't miss this fight, that's all I have to say!"
Zab, while appearing confident and relaxed, surprisingly reasoned to not allow this fight, extremely important to both elite boxers, to become a racial issue. "This is not a Latino or Afro-American thing, this is just boxing."
"He (Cotto) has never faced a fighter like me, outside the Latino community Cotto is a nobody!"
Judah, a loser of his last two prior to his fight this past April against Ruben Galvan, 27-11-2, (which was ruled a no contest due to a 1st round injury suffered by the Hammond, Indiana resident), feels the timing for his opportunity to get back one of his previously held world title belts could not be better. "All the pressure is on him," stated the Brooklyn born, two-time NY Golden Glove champion. "He has never fought anyone at this level, I have. I know he had problems and distractions in his camp, and he already looks all banged up - look at me, I'm fine. I promise you, I will be bringing fireworks Saturday night!"
The undefeated Cotto, 29-0 with 24 KO's, while appearing sullen, was direct. "Time to talk is almost finished. Now it's time to fight," adamantly stated the Puerto Rican hero, who will be serving as grand marshal for Sunday's Puerto Rican Day Parade. "He (Judah) asks you who is Miguel Cotto?" I don't care if you (speaking to the media) know who I am - because Saturday night Zab Judah will know Miguel Cotto!"
Just a month after the financially record setting Floyd Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya mega fight/mega event, boxing is treating its fans to this very intriguing match up, which will undoubtedly be a crowd pleaser; for as long as this scheduled twelve rounder lasts.
If Judah, 34-4 (25 KO's), brings his best into the ring, he will have the edge in hand speed, boxing skills and overall athleticism.
Cotto has the heart and determination, which has enabled the twenty-six year old, married father of three, to become a world champion in two weight divisions. The classy and very likable champion also possesses destructive punching power and a monstrous body attack, which cripples the will of most of his opponents.
While the Cotto-Judah "X-Plosive!" WBA Welterweight Championship bout is less than 1,000 tickets shy of a complete sell-out (as of the Weds. Press conference), the event can also be seen via HBO Pay-Per-View, beginning at 9PM ET/6 PM PT, for $44.95.
As the main event is worthwhile in itself, Top Rank Promotions, in association with Prize Fight Boxing, has put together an exciting and talent loaded undercard.
In a ten round battle of super featherweights, Bobby Pacquiao (27-12-3, 12 KO's) faces the dangerous Humberto Soto. Since his 2005 upset victory over 2000 Olympic silver medalist Rocky Juarez (08/20/05 UD 12), Soto has annihilated his four opponents, scoring four impressive KO wins.
Pacquiao, younger brother of Manny, is remembered for his last trip to Madison Square Garden (06/10/06) when he knocked out former champion and hometown fighter Kevin Kelley, inside four rounds.
Revenge is on the mind of unbeaten welterweight prospect Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. as he faces Omaha, Nebraska fighter Grover Wiley (30-9-1, 14 KO's). Grover will always be remembered as the last fighter to beat the great Julio Cesar Chavez (09/17/05), when the Mexican legend was unable to continue after the fifth round of his ill advised "farewell tour".
"I was the last guy to beat Julio Cesar Chavez, and I will be the first to beat his son!" stated Wiley, a loser of his last three bouts, and a winner in only two of his last seven.
The twenty-one year old Chavez, Jr. is not fazed by his opponent's trivia question-like accomplishment, "He (Wiley) is not fighting an old man Saturday night, and if I don't knock him out - I'll feel like I lost."
Chavez, Jr. boasts a professional record of 30-0-1 (23 KO's) and a November fight date has already been planned against Arturo Gatti, should both Chavez, Jr. and Gatti win their immediate bouts.
Gatti is currently in training for his July 14th match against Alfonso Gomez, a participant in the "Contender" boxing reality series.
Also slated for the televised portion of the HBO PPV is a "turning point" fight pitting talented prospects Anthony Thompson, 23-1 (17 KO's), and Yuri Foreman, 22-0 with 8 KO's, against each other in a ten round super welterweight bout. This gutsy match serves as a crucial fight for both young boxers, who are also Top Rank Promotions stable mates. While a win solidifies the victor as a solid prospect, a loss could unfortunately sidetrack the progression needed to climb the highly competitive ladder to success, for either fighter.
Thompson, a Philadelphia fighter born and raised, has a bit more power than Foreman, while his Belarus born foe, who now calls Brooklyn home, is the more accomplished and tactically gifted boxer.
These are the type of fightcards needed for boxing fans to feel justified to spend their money for a Pay-Per-View event. A night for champions- present, past and future, and all are getting exposure on HBO.